Supply problems hit panel manufacturers

Taipei, Taiwan – Global panel shipment levels are likely to crawl a little higher this year, thanks to high demand for LCD television panels. But Taiwan’s large-area TFT-LCD manufacturers are struggling.

According to Taiwan’s Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC), increased competition means that Taiwanese large-area TFT-LCD  panel makers are likely to see shipment volume drop about nine percent to around 172.9 million units in the full-year 2009. Shipment value is expected to reach approximately US$16.0 billion.

Taiwanese large-area TFT-LCD panel shipment volume reached 31.33 million units in the first quarter of 2009, declining 7.9 percent sequentially. Even worse, first-quarter shipment volume fell 39 percent in comparison with the same quarter in 2008.

The decline in shipment volume in the first quarter could be ascribed to sluggish demand as well as insufficient utilization of panel makers’ production capacity, says MIC. Taiwanese panel makers had cut back on production for two consecutive quarters and were reluctant to boost capacity with no improvement in sight. Another problem was upstream component suppliers laying off employees or shutting down production lines to control fixed costs.

As a result, panel manufacturers were unable to supply sufficient panels to meet the demand of rush orders.

Taiwanese notebook PC panel shipments in the first quarter dropped by approximately 36 percent on the previous quarter, while monitor panel shipment inched down about four percent. This, says MIC, was due to low-price competition from Korean panel makers as well as relatively high inventory levels reported by branded vendors.